The Rhode Island Divorce Lawyer discusses divorce increases, today's surge in bankruptcy filings and an approach that may help you to cope!
It's no secret that the national economy is hurting and so are many marriages. I have no doubt that the only thing that is stopping the divorce rate from escalating out of control is the lack of funds to file for bankruptcy. The other factor that seems prevalent from is the tenacity of many Americans to characterize themselves as "deadbeats" when they find themselves in a financial predictament that calls for a bankruptcy filing. The resistance of the individual to see himself or herself as a "deadbeat" for not living up to his or her obligations and the stigma that today's credit reporting attaches to it are probably the sole limiting factors which slow the acceleration of the rapidly advancing divorce rate.
Financial difficulties are no doubt a huge contributor to pressures within the family unit and result in considerable dissention within the family unit. It is unfortunate that rather than bring the typiclal family unit together in a unified bond, financial lack almost invariably causes disruption, stress and pressure that tear the family apart.
The fact is, divorce filings have consistently been rising while the economy and jobless rate has increased together with the bankruptcy filings throughout the country.
Is there a particular answer to save the American Family?
No answer, suggestion, or proposal that is likely to work for every family, every marriage or every financial predictament. To think otherwise is utopian and unrealistic at best. However, an understanding the perspective of divorce and financial situations leading to bankruptcies may help readers to deal with the their unique situations by gleaning a new insight.
The breakdown of any marriage leading to divorce is, generally speaking, a breakdown in the components that came together to comprise that family unit to begin with. For some couples, a marriage is built upon idealistic notions of change in their partner and hopes that their partner would change for them or would "grow" with them as I have heard too often. Most of these unspoken expectations may be unrealistic and unspoken. Keeping such a marriage together may require a party to simply enter counseling and return to a path in which they each have a realistic view of the relationship as it exists and as it may move forward.
For other couples, a marriage may be based upon financial securities perceived by the parties. To the extent that either party diverges from the financial expectations of the other so that they no longer feel financially insecure, one party may believe that the underlying financial structure that formed the marital union has broken down. This could be the result from one partner losing his or her job in a declining economy and being unable to obtain work despite efforts to do so. In such a "financially based" marital relationship, the downfall of the marriage almost certainly lies in the failure of one party to hold up his or her financial end of what is perceived as the marital obligation to provide the trust and security that the financial illusion provides in the marriage.
It is disappointing that in the foregoing type of scenario, that the financial loss that takes place is seen more of a destroyer in the relationship and a breakdown of trust rather than the powerful factor that it could be for the unification of the couple.
Ultimately, in almost every relationship financial struggles place stresses on the parties. Today, those stresses have led to increased bankruptcy filings and "for better or for worse" relegates itself to nothing more than "for better or until finances become too much for us."
It is in today's economy that financial woes are forcing couples to a financial shortage that pushes people to their emotional brink in their personal relationships and warrants the filing of bankruptcy. It is in this light that I offer perspectives that I hope people will take to heart to save their marriage and to file for bankruptcy if necessary.
Family is more than finances. Family is relationships, closeness, trust, reliance, love and an abundance of other factors that are so remote from finances that it is amazing that tough financial situations bring families to divorce.
When you marry someone, hopefully you consider marrying him or her for the right reasons. Marriage is a union of people, as they are and who they are. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be a union of unexpressed expectations that neither party knows about and neither party knows how to achieve. Marriage should not be the union of one person to another based upon the expectations of what you hope or expect the other spouse to become. Marriage is in the "now" and each day is a new "now" that the parties should endeavor to deal with as a couple.
Though there are certainly divorce lawyers, marriage counselors and relationship therapists who I am quite sure would disagree with me, a divorce is not necessarily a failure. This is a perception that I urge others to consider. Practically speaking, in our lives we are required to make countless decisions. Some of these decisions are more important than others and have a greater impact in our life. Of these decisions, marriage is most assuredly one of the more significant. Yet this decision may be made amidst underlying religious beliefs, family expectations, financial considerations and especially emotional feelings. To expect that an individual of any age can make such a decision to be kept as a happy and healthy contract for life with dedication to one person as his or her soulmate, without the chance of mistake is to some extent unrealistic.
To my thinking, divorce is not a failure. Rather, it is an understanding of a decision to marry that only time and experience could reveal was not optimal for one or both of the parties involved in the marriage. I offer for your consideration, that divorce is merely the legal process by which a person who having the fortitude, understanding and wisdom to realize that the union of the two individuals as soulmates forever results in two unhappy individuals if the marriage is not dissolved.
Divorce, then, is only a mistake when parties cease to ignore the practicalities and recognition that the separation of the union of marriage is not a matter of blame as to either party or a failure of the marital relationship, but simply a realization that the relationship does not work properly because it does not work for one of the other of the parties. Divorce, truly is only a failure when a party takes it personally, allows himself or herself to be consumed by emotional controversy and fails to learn from the experience so that he or she can benefit from this relationship experience in their continuing life.
Recently I was listening to a divorce podcast in which a divorcing woman was talking with another woman who asked her how she viewed her divorce. I found it quite enlightening from the perspective of a divorce lawyer. It went something like this. One woman said to the other "The divorce was difficult." The other woman paused, and said to the first woman " Yeah, I mean but are we as women spoked to do. We just have to cope. Your marriage was broken. What did you do?" The first woman paused and said, "Yes, my marriage was broken. So I did the only thing I could do to move on. I fixed it! I got divorced!"
This is perhaps one of the best expressions of divorce I have heard. Another woman said, " I don't think of it as a divorce, I think of it as a really good house cleaning." It is this type of positive response thinking that makes for better decisions in the future, better relationships for the person making the statement and a better life if a soulmate decision is made again.
Another change in perspective is that of bankruptcy as a "deadbeat" situation in which we duck out on our obligations. Truly, much of everything we accept in our life is a matter of perspective which is merely looking at the situation from another side.
Bankruptcy laws were created to give people a "new start", if and when they every got so far in debt that it was not reasonably possible to make good on all financial obligations and continue to achieve a reasonable standard of living. The question is one of whether you and your spouse deserve a new start. Those who are too critical of themselves may say so. Yet with couples, it is the couple that needs to access their needs in life and each spouse may not be in agreement. Stresses rise and the family unit may crumble from family dissention rather than a unification caused by the lack of financial capital needed to meet all your obligations.
We all have good intentions but it is important in our perceptions to understand that life is often outside of our control. When you have a good job and you are downsized by your company during an economic downturn, this is not in your control and it is counter to your intentions and it is, for all purposes, outside your control. All it takes is one difficult and unexpected change in your family's financial situation to cause marital stress, family disharmony, and bankruptcy type qualifications.
The increases in divorce filings is due in no small part to the directly proportional financial drains and stresses caused by the economic drains throughout the country, many of which lead to bankruptcy.
Perspective is everything. Marriage is a huge decision and one that can rarely be made with certainty in knowing your spouse is your soulmate. Divorce merely provides a legal means of a margin of error. To provide that we make no errors in such decisions would be farsical. Only a divorce without learning something from the relationship to better your life truly leads us to failure. If we learn nothing from an experience, then that experience was a wasted endeavor.
As to bankruptcy, there comes a time when we all must realize that there are things outside our control and those things affect our lives, our dreams, our goals and our expectations for the future, when these uncontrollable items affect our lives the law has provided a means by which we learn more about our finances and are given a fresh start. This fresh start is not without its penalties by reports to credit bureaus to rebuild once again, but it is far from the deadbeat's escape that many believe it to be.
If it is necessary to help you move on and preserve your divorce, consider the "new start" offered by federal bankruptcy law. If this provides no consolation, consider that divorce is likewise an opportunity to realize that when you have not picked the right spouse that matches your life as your "soulmate" out of the millions of people in the world, that divorce affords your a legal "fix-it" that allows you a "new start".
Neither divorce nor bankruptcy is bad. It is merely our perspective that makes it such.
Christopher A. Pearsall, Attorney-at-Law
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